Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Celto-Pagan Music

I am not exactly the go-to guy on Pagan music. Jason Pitzl-Waters, who is an actual DJ, has much broader knowledge, and once he has finished re-doing it, you should drop by his music site, check the links, and download his "Darker Shade of Pagan" mp3 files.

Being more a historian, I have been thinking about the Pagan singer-songwriter Gwydion Pendderwen (1946-1982). (The "dd" is pronounced like a dipthong "th," by the way. That was an SCA name that became Pagan name, and Gwydion is one of a relatively short list of people I know who became their Pagan names in almost all areas of life.)

Gwydion and I were friends for the last five years of his life; this thumbnail photo was taken near Victor, Colo., when he was conducting one of his "faerie shaman" rituals. The Faerie Shaman was the name of his second album, and he is shown here in his performance garb.

Now Serpentine Music is planning a reissue of his recorded music, and owner Anne Hill asked me to write a contribution to the liner notes, which sent me spinning back to the mid-1970s when his Songs for the Old Religion was the first professionally produced and nationally distributed Pagan album--and what a thrill it was to put it on the turntable.

There is so much more now. As I mentioned earlier, some music-lovers have gotten tired of the harps-and-folk guitars approach to Pagan music, and that's OK. I like trance music too.

But out on the misty edge of British Columbia, that Celtic/World Beat harp-driven sound still feels right. There the group Jaiya has issued two CDs with Pagan calendrical themes: Firedance: Songs for Winter Solstice and Beltane: Songs for the Green Time.

Both blend new and traditional tunes. Both, to borrow Robert Graves' summation of the Theme, deal with the single subject of true poetry, Life and Death.

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Blogger Jason said...

Back up with an expanded links section, and hopefully by tomorrow you'll be able to download this years special once more.

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anne Hill said...

Thanks for the plug, Chas. I hope to have Gwydion's music on my website by 10/31. It will be roughly 23 years since his untimely death.

The new music you mention sounds fabulous. A few years ago I would have jumped up immediately and ordered it for my catalog. But Pagan music is a labor of love no matter how you slice it, and I am happy now to have refined Serpentine to be a small label with a few other CDs added for spice. It is a sustainable size, which will keep music like Gwydion's available over the long haul. This longevity to me is far more important than carrying every great (or not so great) Pagan album that comes down the pike. Must be a middle-age thing. Maybe somebody else will set up a Pagan music clearinghouse again someday.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Teading your thoughts about Gwydion Pendderwen made me feel very nostalgic. Gwydion was the pied piper of many of us as we were discovering our true souls and gave us a voice. We honor him still in our hearts.

11:13 AM  

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